New Jersey wines are a $30 million-a-year industry. New Jersey is the fifth-largest wine producer in the nation, with 40 different varieties made by the state’s wineries.
In 2007, New Jersey’s Outer Coastal Plain, an area encompassing most of southern New Jersey, was granted a federal designation as an approved “American Viticulture Area” (AVA). Influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay the region’s moderated winter temperatures and later frost dates, many cold-sensitive grape varieties, difficult to grow in other areas, excel there. The Outer Coastal Plain is New Jersey’s largest physiographic area, consisting of about 2.25 million acres including all of Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, and Ocean Counties and parts of Salem, Gloucester, Camden, Burlington, and Monmouth Counties. It is known for its unique, well-drained soils of sandy loam, which are amongst the best on the East Coast for producing high-quality wine grapes.
As more wineries open the demand for New Jersey grown grapes continues to expand. New Jersey’s wine industry now ranks fifth in production behind California, Oregon, Washington and New York. This means the industry is becoming less dependent on New Jersey grapes and more dependent on out-of-state grapes, and risks losing its legitimate claim as an agricultural concern in the state.
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture administers a promotion and research fund for the wine industry supported by per-gallon tax refunds collected by the New Jersey Wine Industry Advisory Council. The Council prints promotional materials, conducts publicity programs, funds promotional festivals and conducts varietal and production oriented research with the funds.
In 2009, the Department will continue to support a Jersey Fresh quality guarantee for wines. Wines must pass a rigorous quality test and be produced from grapes grown in New Jersey can now put a Jersey Fresh quality guarantee on their wines. In order to be considered a wine is tested for appearance, color, aroma and bouquet, acesence, total acid, sugar, body, flavor, astringency and general quality.
Also in 2009, efforts will be continued to increase New Jersey grape production and expand the Jersey Fresh Wine Festival to include more restaurants and farmers offering fresh produce. The industry will be supported as it seeks additional retail outlets and licenses to produce fruit based spirits. Opportunities will be created to support New Jersey wines at domestic and international trade shows. Support for federal export development funding of New Jersey fruit wines will be continued.
9.1 Increase New Jersey Grape Production
70) STRATEGY – Encourage support for new production research to increase the state’s grape production and expand the locally grown content of New Jersey wines. To increase demand, support the industry’s efforts to highlight the “made with Jersey Fresh” origins of the wines. Promote products from the newly established “Jersey Coastal Plain” American Viticulture Area.
71) STRATEGY – In an effort to increase the local agricultural input of New Jersey’s wine industry, promote the use of locally produced fruits in the making of New Jersey wines.
9.2 Support the Wine Industry at Trade Shows
72) STRATEGY – Seek opportunities at domestic and international trade shows for New Jersey’s wine industry to expand the marketing and promotion of its wines. Support these efforts with any available state, regional or national cost sharing programs such as the USDA Market Access Program.
9.3 Expand the Jersey Fresh Wine Festival
73) STRATEGY - Support the expansion of the Jersey Fresh Wine Festival to include additional producers of Jersey Fresh and Jersey Seafood products and the offerings of area restaurants that feature Jersey Fresh items.
9.4 Promote Product Categories
74) STRATEGY – Continue to support the wine industry’s effort to obtain licenses to distill fruit based spirits such as fruit brandies and grappa.
9.5 Expand Retail Outlets
75) STRATEGY – Support the wine industry’s effort to expand its number of eligible retail outlets and also the ability to sell their wines at farmer’s markets.